At Rx Health and Wellness Weight Loss Clinic located in Owasso, Oklahoma, we strive to provide practical information to aid you on your weight loss journey. We gladly share our knowledge in a series of posts titled “From the Bedside”. In this article, Kristina Doolittle, APRN, one of our providers at Rx Health and Wellness Weight Loss clinic, discusses Proteins and how they can affect your weight loss goals.
By Kristina Doolittle, APRN
Of all the macro-nutrients, dietary proteins are the one most individuals gravitate towards. Proteins seem to have the best reputation for benefits in health. They have also been commonly associated with diets with big claims for weight loss.
Proteins are found in many food sources in our everyday diet. They are considered the building blocks of all cells in our body. Proteins are necessary for building, repairing, and maintaining body tissues. Proteins also make up enzymes and hormones that regulate our body functions. They are important for growth, development, energy, and our overall health.
When protein is consumed in our diet our digestive system breaks it down into a chain of amino acids. Just for clarity our bodies make some amino acids while others are obtained from the foods from our diet. Essential amino acids are those that can not be made by our body and therefore must be consumed in our diets. Not all proteins are created equal and depending on our personal dietary preferences, it may be important to combine protein sources in order to consume all the amino acids necessary for our body to function. Animal proteins (meats, dairy, eggs) are considered complete, meaning it contains all amino acids needed for the body. Plant proteins (beans, lentils, nuts, and certain grains) are incomplete meaning they are missing one or more of the amino acids. When proteins are broken down it helps to fuel our body also known as metabolism, helps the immune system stay strong, and helps keep our stomachs feeling full.
With the many options of protein, which one is more beneficial for our health and body function? Red meats such as beef, lamb, and pork generally have more saturated or what is also known as “bad fats” than chicken, fish and vegetable proteins. Most individuals actually get enough protein from this group, but need to eat leaner and more varied selection of these foods. Unfortunately, the higher level of saturated fats we eat, raises our cholesterol which increases the development of heart disease such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Unsaturated fats found in fish actually have more health benefits because they also contain Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids actually help to reduce the risk of heart disease, but we will dive further into dietary fats next week.
Many factors contribute to the amount of protein that should be consumed such as age, gender, physical activity, and other health conditions. In general, the overall amount of protein that our bodies need depends on one’s caloric needs. Recommendations suggest that 10-35% of daily calories come from protein. Diets higher in protein than that are not recommended for individuals with certain health conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, or heart disease. The higher amounts of proteins can negatively affect their body and it’s disease process.
It is important to incorporate a variety of foods into our diet. It is important to find balance in your diet by choosing the right kind and amount of protein. Choose lean meat options, skim milk, low fat options, legumes, soy, and whey and be mindful of the portion size. Choose meals that incorporate vegetables along with your protein choice. The variety of nutrients in our diet help to supply our body with enough nutrients and energy to stay active and healthy.